Black Metal and its bigger brother Extreme Metal are fertile grounds. Somehow everything that sounds wild or arcane kinda lands in the playground of Folk’s cousin. Because both till these fields of the mystical and often pagan wisdom. And the lore they choose can be both, imagined or rooted in history somewhere.
Now, here we move to fantasy land all over again. In other words, those bands that dabble in pseudo-history and wild imagination will be on the menu. Stories garnished with everything the creative and sometimes delirious mind can cook up is game. And often rightly so.
By Loki, the fantasy genre whelped great fiction writers that delighted all of us for ages. Tolkien1), Erikson2), or again Lovecraft3) come to mind right away. Yet, Firelink‘s passion appears to be gaming, mainly the Dark Souls Trilogy amongst a few of its brethren. And it fits perfectly, doesn’t it? You’ll find the same wide spaces and soaring sounds. A fantasy haven like any other, and surely yet another pregnant source for grand soundscapes.
What really challenged us with Firelink‘s latest is their music. Long surpassed are the weird synth-laden offerings of Summoning4) or Caladan Brood5), excellent as they may be. Their urge to use the sodden drum machine and frugal electronic sounds made those guys world-famous, though. And for cause.
But fantasy nerds or not, their meaty tune really hooked us right away. Yet another duo, one would like to yell. But Firelink are in no way a copy of the Alcest crowd. Even if you may find some slight similarities at times. More to the mark is a mix between Arbrynth and the darkened, rotten meat Black Trillium7) like to serve us, perhaps.
Cerulean Athenaeum starts the record with some expert ambient acoustics that immediately disintegrate into a fierce, meaty metal attack. That one truly rocked us back on our hunches. A juicily mean little Black Metal assault that set us up for good.
And there’s a pretty vicious complexity to the piece, too. Yet one that’s very well managed by the folks of Firelink. Without any of those signs of over-compression and undue walls of bricks. And that’s good for my tortured soul, pun intended.
The tight songwriting and energetic delivery also got on our good side. And this renders the record truly tasty. Firelink also brought us a record of hot and cold. Bruising metal attacks in full Black Metal mode followed by soothing ambients that kinda float about the soundscape. I particularly liked the dialogue between those blackened rasps and sturdy Death Metal growls.
And then Kingseeker comes along. The friggin’ filet piece of the whole shebang.
This one pretty much showcases the essence that this edition of Firelink prowess is all about. For long stretches, the record indulges in some sort of Tech Black Metal with progressive elements roaming freely. With bouts where the vocalist’s rasps suddenly speed away in perfect Dani Filth fashion. And this track contains all of that.
And then it comes. “Do you have some business here!”, spoken – as the lore goes – by Ingward, the Guardian of the Seal. It’s a pity that they follow this moment with lengthy atmospherics that truly kill the momentum for a while. But just when I wondered where the songwriting lost itself, this simple, yet stunning meaty riff kicks in. Something more prone to the realm of Death Metal than anything else. Yet, it remedies itself with that black / death dialogue and a bout of true black metalism later.
End of Prey turns out to be a worthy ending to a great record with its boundless ups and downs. If – however – you looked for some grand finale, you’ll be disappointed. Much to the contrary, you’ll find no smasher towards the end, but a pretty pensive end to Firewind‘s latest. In a way more in true Alcest fashion than is really good for the record.
Yet, it’s this hot ‘n’ cold thing on that record that kept the sound at full bore on our mighty music machine. This shift from high-vitamin Black Metal, over Post Black, some hints of the prog universe, to woozy atmospherics just got the better of us. Even if some of the instrumental parts have this despicable tendency to noodle about the soundscape a tad too much.
But, in all, Firelink just delivered one of the highlights of this year. An absolutely delicious piece of Extreme Metal that may very well find its way onto our upcoming top 10 list.
Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release date: 16 June 2020
|1.||J.R.R. Tolkien | Lord of the Rings, et al.|
|2.||Steven Erikson | Malazan Book of the Fallen, et al.|
|3.||H.P. Lovecraft | Horror writer supreme of the obscure.|
|4.||Avid Tolkien supporter.|
|5.||Erikson, and the boring book of the fallen is his wont.|
|6.||Lovecraft is one of their guilty pleasures, methinks.|
|7.||Another duo, I kid you not.|